So it’s come to this.
After all of the (c)upsets, near-knockouts and fun and games, there are four teams left, two from Europe, two from South America, three former World Cup winners who are in the top five ranked teams in the world, and one almost-team hoping to be the second successive first-time winner.
Brazil face Germany today, and Argentina take on Holland tomorrow to decide whether or not there is any chance whatsoever of me getting a ticket to Sunday’s final.
(If Brazil make it, I give myself a 0.01% chance: if they don’t, but Argentina do, it won’t be much better, except that maybe the suicidal Brazilians would rather sell/give their ticket to me than to their hated rivals from over the River Plate! Holland vs Germany would probably be the least fun, but most accessible final).
‘Big’ Philip Scolari was in charge of the hosts the only other time they faced Germany at the competition, when 2 Ronaldo goals propelled Brazil to their fifth (and most recent) World Cup title in Yokohama, Japan. However, Germany have kept more clean sheets in this tournament than any other team, (three out of five), and with Neymar Jr. missing, many are wondering where Brazil’s goals will come from.
On that note, a German newspaper today has alleged that FIFA explicitly asked referees not to give out too many yellow cards, as the BBC reports:
“German sports paper Bild claims Fifa have told referees to go as long as possible without giving yellow cards and to officiate matches with their own personality.
Bild says that the absence of Neymar, injured in a challenge by Juan Zuniga in Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia, for tomorrow’s semi-final can be put down to the policy.”
And here was I writing in yesterday’s blog, wondering why the officiating had been so bad. It was FIFA’s fault! Who could have guessed?
On the lighter side of the game, Google recently got even more into the footballing swing of things, (after their daily doodles, which were excellent), with a World Cup-based Google Maps geography game, which may take away all of your spare time and can be found here.
Also, Suarez‘s teeth continue to be the story that just keeps giving: some genius somewhere had the idea to have this tattooed on him:
Finally, on a sadder note, this is the year that has seen some of the sport’s biggest stars shuffle off this mortal football pitch: yesterday it was the turn of Argentine/Spanish Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stéfano to join his old friend and rival Eusébio in that great tournament in the sky.